Happy Birthday Title IX

I was a Title IV baby. So was my sister. We grew up in a family where we were encouraged and supported in the ‘girls can do anything’ idea.

Title IX (for those who don’t know) reads in part like this:

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance…”

We (and countless others) are the daughters of the Title IX revolution: Young women running and swimming their way through college, often with the help of athletic scholarships. My sister and I both got athletic scholarships to college which would not have been possible if it had not been for the passage of Title IX. We both have benefited greatly from our opportunities of post-secondary education due to Title IX and equal opportunity in the classroom, in the gym and in the pool. We have benefited greatly from the belief and confidence we received early on to ‘Do or Be anything you want!’ and innately know that we had the opportunity to make it happen.

and … Title IX is coming up on it’s 40th Anniversary of legislation (June 23rd). 40 years of federally mandated equal opportunities for women in athletics and financial opportunities.

Title IX has changed the landscape of society, empowered girls at a young age with the belief that ‘they could do anything’ and who grew up to be strong women. Even as controversial as it was (and has continued to be) I do think that the benefits far outweigh the costs. Why? Because it gives young girls an opportunity to engage in something other than America’s ‘celebrity culture’. Sure, not everyone is built to do a ‘sport’, but because of Title IX there are a thousand other after-school activities which have been opened up to girls/women which otherwise would not have been.

It is these after-school activities that encourage young people to stand strong in the face of adversity. It is these programs which introduce young people to role-models and leaders in the community, and it is these programs which help build confidence in an age where celebrity sex-tapes and drunken collapsing on a Hollywood sidewalk at 3 a.m. is blasted at young girls 24 hours a day, pinging from TV screens to computer screens to smart phone screens. The future of these young people is a constant fight between empowerment, encouragement and confidence and the gluttonous nutrition-less sleez-ebrity culture.

I understand deeply the positive effects that Title IX had on my life. I also understand that not every girl is an athlete. Which is why I am passionate about giving these young people an opportunity to do something more with their spare time than obsessively watch their twitter feed for the latest on celebrity culture.

Which is why I have put my energy and effort behind the SEEDs program. It was started in 2001 in New Mexico as a mentorship program for young girls and has since blossomed and spread, like seeds often do.

In Seattle it is offered at Skin Deep Dance, and poignantly this inaugural year of Deep SEEDs is also the 40th anniversary of Title IX.

One program — or 20 — won’t stem the tide. But with a shared and wide commitment to present — and, if we’re lucky, to be — the real role models, we might lift young girls above this empty celebrity culture.

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